For the Love of Literature

I keep hearing of the great lengths to which great lovers go to achieve their love. I am not such a lover. I would never sacrifice anything to get one of the women of my dreams. But, fate is hell bent on making me a great lover. But let me tell you, I was not born great, I had greatness thrust upon me.
A silence descended on the courtroom as Judge Sharma struck the gavel and spoke with his deep authoritative voice, “Let me summarise where we stand. Mr Rakesh, you stand accused of using unlawful means to gain access to a high profile social group. You have been accused of falsely representing your details. You have been charged under sections 43A, 57B and 210A of the Indian Penal Code. The first session saw the prosecution present their case. Mr Rakesh, It is your turn to defend yourself in this session.
I began, “Your honour, I would like to convey at the beginning of my defense that I had no intentions of wrongdoing. My motives were entirely different. I did it all for Chandni.” and pointed to her standing in the witness stand.
I watched as my lawyer spoke to Chandni, “Ms Chandni, do you recognize the accused standing in front of you?”
“Yes I do. I met him at the literary classics book club. I was the one who printed his LCBC membership card.”
My lawyer asked her, “Mr Rakesh claims he did all this for you. Were you aware of his feelings towards you? Did you in any way, knowingly or unknowingly encourage him in any way?”
“He told me he likes classics. We dated for 3 months. He told me all about his travels. He told me he read War and Peace during his long flights and business travels abroad. He even put forward the right arguments during the group discussions in the club. He seemed to have so much depth of knowledge about the classics. How was I to know all of this was a lie?” Chandni said and stifled a sob.
I spoke up, “It was not a lie Chandni, I do love you”.
“Why did you lie to me Rakesh. Why did I have to find out like this?”
“I did not mean for you to find out like this Chandni. I admit, I did not read War and Peace entirely, but I did read an abridged version of it.”
“A synopsis is not an abridged version Rakesh”
“Chandni, listen to me”
Chandni continued, “Your honour, can you imagine what I went through when I found out? We were celebrating our 3 month anniversary over dinner. He had invited me home. I wanted to wash my hands and wandered accidentally into his bedroom. That was when I discovered the Chetan Bhagat and Durjoy Dutta novels lying below his reading table.”
“Chandni, they were below the table because I was not reading them”
“Then why were they not dust covered like the rest of the area below the table?”
I noticed judge Sharma nod in approval of her cross questioning skills.
“Please stop interrupting Ms Chandni at every sentence Mr Rakesh. You will be given a chance to speak. Please carry on Ms Chandni”
“I would have forgiven this your Honour. After all, I have dated men who have hidden books and magazines under the table for various reasons. I can stand men who hide things but not men who lie to me. What answer do you have Rakesh for this, and pulled out the 150 page book titled, “War and Peace, a concise guide for Karnataka 12th stand board examinations. Revised syllabus.”
“Chandni, this was the only way I would be able to decipher the meanings behind the classics and participate in the discussion you guys have at the LCBC. Why don’t you understand that I did it all to get to you? Would you people have ever accepted me into your club if you knew of the books I really like to read?”

“Couldn’t you have at least chosen CBSE syllabus Rakesh? Why did you lie to me? Why? That too about the one thing I love the most? Did you really love me or did you pick up those skills also from some manual?”
Those words from her struck a nerve that I never knew I possessed. I had to speak now.
I walked towards the centre of the courtoom, raised my voice and spoke, “Chandni, we have gone on dates and dates and dates. Did you ever feel that my love towards you was insincere? I agree I used false means to get your attention, but I never used lies to hold your attention. I assure you, the poems I wrote to you were my own and they cannot be found in any school board syllabus.”
I turned towards Judge Sharma and appealed, “You honour we have laws against discrimination on the basis of caste, colour, sex and religion. And today, I stand before you to protest against this discrimination on the basis of reading taste. Crime has no colour, terror has no religion, violence has no gender and bad literature has no author.” And paused as the silence sunk in.
Judge Sharma, finally spoke up, “I have had enough, I sentence both of you to 2 weeks of community service at the central government library.” and added almost as an afterthought “In the Indian fiction section.”
My lips curved into a smile as Chandni’s began to frown and I saw her hurl the 150 page guide across the courtroom towards me.


Post Script

This piece was written at a session in Write Club on 16th July, 2016. Regular readers (if any) would notice that War and Peace has made multiple appearances in my writings. I am a big fan of War and Peace (even without reading it). Another post where War and Peace made an appearance is this one.


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